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Chase the Northern Lights across the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Golden Circle and South Coast on a 7-day self-drive tour of Iceland!
This tour is available from autumn through to the end of winter, when the Northern Lights are visible in Iceland. With dark skies and long nights, it’s the perfect time to witness the Aurora Borealis dancing over Iceland’s vast and diverse landscapes.
You’ll receive a carefully planned, personalised itinerary on this Iceland self-drive holiday, containing detailed descriptions of your driving routes. As you travel from west to east and back again, you’ll have plenty of recommendations about where to stop and what to see, including the most famous Icelandic locations along the way. There will be the chance to tick many destinations off your bucket-list as you explore the country at your own pace.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is oftentimes described as a ‘miniature Iceland’, the reason being that it is home to wild and unforgettable scenes that epitomise nature to be found in all corners of the country. If you don’t have the time to travel around the entire island, then this is the perfect place to begin for a rewarding and inspiring experience.
From there, you’ll make your way to Iceland’s popular Golden Circle route, where history and culture come together with stunning landscapes. It consists of three natural wonders – Gullfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir hot springs area – where you’ll be able to take in dramatic geological formations and learn all about the significance of the area.
The final part of your itinerary will take you to Iceland’s South Coast, one of the most charming places in Iceland. Thundering waterfalls, black sand beaches, icebergs and the extraordinary beauty of the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon await, including a visit to the much-lauded Vatnajökull National Park for the chance to see an ice cave.
While this self-drive itinerary will have you delving into some of the most iconic destinations in Iceland, you can tailor your holiday to suit your needs with a variety of add-on tours. Take a dip in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon, go snorkelling in crystal clear water between two intercontinental plates, descend into the depths of a volcano, journey into a frozen ice cave or ride a snowmobile to the middle of a glacier. Your imagination is the key to an inspiring Icelandic adventure!
This 7-day self-drive tour is the perfect way to experience the breathtaking beauty of the Northern Lights in Iceland. Don’t miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime road trip. Check availability by choosing a date.
As you make your way towards Reykjavík, you’ll pass by the famous Blue Lagoon. After a long flight, this world-class spa is the perfect stop for a spot of indulgence. You can opt to take a dip in the geothermal water or relax with a luxurious massage or treatments. For the ultimate indulgence, dine on fresh and local seasonal cuisine at the Lava Restaurant on-site.
There is much to explore as you follow the highway into town, along the expansive and fascinating Reykjanes Peninsula. Lava fields, hot springs and stunning geological features are just some of the sights to take in if you have some time up your sleeve.
Thereafter, you can head to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík. Recharge with a stroll by the seafront in this small but vibrant city, dotted with charming houses amongst delightful streets. There is a lot to take in, with countless museums and shops to explore, a colourful harbour and bustling night-life.
If you’re feeling adventurous, there is the opportunity to descend inside the magma chamber of the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano in Iceland’s stunning Bláfjöll (Blue Mountains) range. Otherwise, spend the day traversing the spectacular cliffs around the windswept village of Arnarstapi and marvel at natural wonders. On a clear day, the coastline offers stunning views to the fjords in the north. Destinations not to be missed include the Djúpalónssandur black lava pearl beach and Kirkjufell mountain.
Be sure to look towards the skies in the evening for the chance to catch a glimpse of the elusive Northern Lights.
Afterwards, you can enjoy the day at your own leisure as you make your way around the famous Golden Circle. Start at Þingvellir National Park, where you can wander between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is teeming with geological wonders. If you’re up to it, submerge yourself in the crystal clear glacial water of the Silfra fissure for a snorkelling experience like no other!
Your next stop will be at the Geysir geothermal area, where mesmerising steam and sulphur rise from fumaroles in the colourful, volcanic ground. The highlight here is the Strokkur fountain geyser, which explodes every 5 to 10 minutes, spewing hot volcanic water up to 20 metres in the air!
Thereafter, make your way to the nearby Gullfoss waterfall, which is situated on the mighty Hvítá river. It thunders across two tiers and plunges with dramatic force into a canyon below, making for a truly extraordinary sight.
Your accommodation for the evening will be near Laugarvatn lake – the perfect place to relax in Iceland’s magnificent nature. It’s a wonderful location to view the Northern Lights when the skies are clear at night.
At Seljalandsfoss, you’ll have the opportunity to walk behind the waterfall as it tumbles forth from a 60 metre high cliff. Nearby is the famous Skógafoss waterfall, which flows from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier. If you have the time, wander through the turf-roofed houses of the Skógasafn open-air museum, go glacier hiking at Sólheimajökull or take a snowmobile tour across Mýrdalsjökull glacier towards Katla, one of the most active volcanoes in Iceland.
In the afternoon, stand tall against the dramatic waves of the North Atlantic Ocean as they crash against the cliffs of Dyrhólaey. From there, head to Reynisfjara black sand beach and get close to the fascinating basalt columns along the shoreline, as well as the jagged Reynisdrangar sea stacks rising forth from the water.
Your accommodation for the evening will be near the charming village of Vík, a gorgeous place to view the Northern Lights should they make a display tonight.
Enjoy the rest of the day at your leisure by exploring the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. There are many hiking trails that will take you amongst a variety of landscapes. You can enhance the experience with a glacier hike from Skaftafell or visit the unique Svartifoss waterfall. Its hexagonal black basalt columns resembling an organ pipe were the inspiration for the design of the famous Hallgrimskírkja church in Reykjavík.
From there, the drive towards Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is inspiringly picturesque. You’ll catch numerous glimpses of glacial tongues upon the horizon as you make your way into the heart of the Vatnajökull National Park, home to Iceland’s largest ice-cap. If you’re lucky, you’ll arrive at Jökulsárlón in time to catch the gorgeous pink hues of the sun setting over the icebergs as they float serenely within the lagoon, having calved into the tidal waters from the nearby glacier.
Your accommodation for the evening will be near Jökulsárlón. Surrounded by icy beauty and stunning natural landscapes, it’s a memorable location to turn your eye towards the sky in search of the Northern Lights.
This will be your chance to experience the surreal and otherworldly atmosphere of an ice cave. Marvel at the crystal blue walls of ice as you walk within a glacier. Iceland is one of the few places in the world where you can experience this unique phenomenon of nature. Ice cave tours can book out quickly, so be sure to make your reservations well ahead of time.
Afterwards, make your way to the stretch of beach adjacent to the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This is where icebergs that have drifted out to sea are deposited upon the shore, resembling diamonds glistening in the sun. It’s no wonder why this stretch of coast has been nicknamed the ‘Diamond Beach’ by some!
When you’ve finished capturing your final memories, it will be time to commence the long drive back to Reykjavík. There will be plenty of places to stop and take a rest along the way. It’s a great opportunity to catch any sights you may have missed along the spectacular South Coast of Iceland.
You’ll reach downtown Reykjavík by evening and check in to your accommodation.
Until next time, we hope you’ve had a wonderful time in Iceland!
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.
Some optional activities might need either a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkelling.
Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.
This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. Please consider your ability to drive in winter conditions before booking this tour. If you feel insecure about driving in these conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.
Wearing cotton or jeans as the outer layer during your trip to the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour is not allowed. Please wear suitable waterproof clothes and sturdy hiking shoes for this trip. It’s always the same temperature inside the crater – about 5–6°C (42–43°F). The Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour involves a hike of approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk. Please note that the volcano is only accessible from May to October each year.
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. For other levels, bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars. All levels come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services. Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental. We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.
You can now add meals to your booking. Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact email@example.com and declare full cancellation. Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.